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Rhode Island Bills Would Impact Salvage Vehicles, Appraisals

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Rhode Island State Sen. Maryellen Goodwin, D-District 1, Providence, has introduced Senate Bill 661 and Senate Bill 685, which if passed would impact the collision repair industry. S.B. 661 would prohibit an appraiser or insurance carrier from deeming a motor vehicle a total loss vehicle if restoration to the pre-accident condition is less than 75 percent of the market value of the vehicle before the damages took place. S.B. 685 would place restrictions on motor vehicle damage appraisers.

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S.B. 661 provides:

• No appraiser shall obtain an estimate from an unlicensed automobile body repair shop nor shall any appraiser agree on a price for repairing a damaged motor vehicle with an unlicensed body shop.

• No appraiser or insurance carrier shall deem a motor vehicle a total loss if the cost to rebuild or reconstruct the motor vehicle to its pre-accident condition is less than 75 percent of the fair market value of the motor vehicle immediately preceding the time it was damaged. “Fair market value” means the retail value of a motor vehicle as set forth in a current edition of a nationally recognized compilation of retail values commonly used by the automotive industry to establish values of motor vehicles. The bill does not stipulate that a vehicle must be deemed a total loss if the total cost to rebuild or reconstruct the motor vehicle to its pre-accident condition is greater than 75 percent of the fair market value.

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S.B. 685 stipulates:

“The appraiser shall not obtain a competitive estimate from another auto body shop unless the owner of that other shop, or his or her authorized agent, has inspected the vehicle. No appraisal or estimate shall be obtained by the use of photographs, telephone calls, or in any manner other than a personal inspection.”

In addition, the bill states that:

• No appraiser shall obtain an estimate from an unlicensed body shop nor shall any appraiser agree on a price for repairing a damaged motor vehicle with an unlicensed body shop. 

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• An appraiser’s performance shall not be evaluated by his or her employer using the value of the appraisals completed by the appraiser in any period of time during his or her employment.

• Insurance carriers, independent appraisal businesses and any other entity where an appraiser may be employed shall not provide employment incentives based upon the value of appraisals completed in any period of time by a licensed appraiser. Such prohibited incentives are defined as any form of valuable consideration, including, but not limited to: bonuses, promotions, raises, gift cards and gift certificates. An appraiser shall not accept such incentive if offered on the basis of appraisal values.

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• An appraiser shall not reduce the value of a loss by writing an incomplete appraisal when a vehicle is inspected at a location other than an automobile body repair shop.

• An appraiser shall not reduce the value of a loss by refusing to negotiate in good faith any part of the loss, including labor rate charges, specific parts to be used, repair procedures, and paint and material charges with a licensed automobile body repair shop.

• Nothing in this section shall prohibit a private right of action.

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